The emigration of highly-qualified academics (‘brain drain’) is considered an essential factor in the decline of the human capital of post-Soviet Russia. However, statistics show that the scale of this phenomenon since 2000 was minor. The Russian scientists who went abroad for permanent residence or for a contract job abroad represented no more than 2% of Russian scientists with Candidate or Doctor of Science degrees. Yet, at the same time, the relatively new concept of ‘brain circulation’ gains more popularity. The departure of Russian scientists abroad is not only a threat to the development of domestic science but, paradoxically, also the chance to give additional stimulus to its development.